20 craziest job interview questions (Thinkstock)By Lynn O'Shaughnessy for CBS MoneyWatch.com
Nobody has to tell you that it's a rough job market. So when you do finagle a job interview, you'll want to shine.
To get you prepared, here are 20 real job interview questions that such companies as Google, Capital One and Goldman Sachs asked internships candidate. The interview questions were compiled by Glassdoor.com, an online job community that encourages people to anonymously share that inside look at jobs and companies.
- Procter & Gamble: Sell me an invisible pen.
- Facebook: Twenty-five racehorses, no stopwatch, five tracks. Figure out the top three fastest horses in the fewest number of races.
- Citigroup: What is your strategy at table tennis?
- Google: You are climbing a staircase. Each time you can either take one step or two. The staircase has n steps. In how many distinct ways can you climb the staircase?
- Capital One: How do you evaluate Subway's five-foot long sub policy?
- Gryphon Scientific: How many cocktail umbrellas are there in a given time in the United States?
- Enterprise Rent-A-Car: Would you be okay hearing "no" from seven out of 10 customers.
- Goldman Sachs: Suppose you had eight identical balls. One of them is slightly heavier and you are given a balance scale. What's the fewest number of times you have to use the scale to find the heavier ball?
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- Towers Watson: Estimate how many planes are there in the sky.
- Lubin Lawrence: If you could describe Hershey, Godiva and Dove chocolate as people, how would you describe them?
- Pottery Barn: If I was a genie and could give you your dream job, what and where would it be?
- Kiewit Corp.: What did you play with as a child?
- VWR International: How would you market a telescope in 1750 when no one knows about orbits, moons etc.
- Diageo North America: If you walk into a liquor store to count the unsold bottles, but the clerk is screaming at you to leave, what do you do?
- Brown & Brown Insurance: How would you rate your life on a scale of 1 to 10?
- Jane Street Capital: What is the smallest number divisible by 225 that consists of all 1's and 0's?
- UBS: If we were playing Russian roulette and had one bullet, I randomly spun the chamber and fired but nothing was fired. Would you rather fire the gun again or respin the chamber and then fire on your turn?
- Merrill Lynch: Tell me about your life from kindergarten onwards.
- Susquehanna International Group: Five guys, all of different ages, enter a bar and take a seat at a round table. What is the probability that they are seated in ascending order of age?
So how do you answer some of these off-the-wall interview questions? I asked Rusty Rueff, Glassdoor.com's career and workplace expert. Here's what he had to say:
Employers want to see how candidates think. For tough or oddball interview questions, it's not always about getting the right answers it's about how you tackle a challenging problem. The question for employers may be really about how fast you think on your feet.
When faced with tough questions like these, take a deep breath, slow down and then sound out your thinking process aloud and walk the interviewer through how you get to an answer.
If you feel the question is unrelated to the job or company, before trying to respond, very politely ask the interviewer, "In order to best get to what you are looking for from me, can you provide more detail as to how the problem relates to how problems are solved here?" You have to ask this delicately though as you don't want the interviewer to think you are being defensive or want to duck the question.
©2011 CBS Interactive Inc., a CBS Company. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
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